Kalpen Suresh Modi(born April 23, 1977), best known by his stage nameKal Penn, is an American film and television actor, producer, and civil servant.As an actor, he is known for his roles portraying the character Dr. Lawrence Kutner on the television programHouseand the character Kumar Patel in theHarold and Kumarcomedy films. He is also recognized for his performance in the critically acclaimed filmThe Namesake. Penn has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania as a visiting lecturer in the Cinema Studies Program.On April 8, 2009, it was announced that Penn would join the Obama administration as an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement .This necessitated that his character Lawrence Kutner be written out of the TV seriesHouse.Penn resigned his post as Barack Obama's associate director of public engagement on June 1, 2010, for a brief return to his acting career.He filmed the third installment of the Harold and Kumar series,A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, then returned to the White House Office of Public Engagement as an Associate Director.In July 2011, he again left the White House, this time for a role inHow I Met Your Mother,and then went back to his political duties.
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|1998||Express: Aisle to Glory||Jackie Newton|
|2001||American Desi||Ajay Pandya|
|National Lampoon's Van Wilder||Taj Badalandabad|
|Love Don't Cost a Thing||Kenneth Warman|
|Malibu's Most Wanted||Hadji|
|Dude, Where's the Party?||Mo (Mohan Bakshi)|
|2004||Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle||Kumar Patel|
|Ball & Chain||Bobby|
|2005||Dancing in Twilight||Sam|
|Son of the Mask||Jorge|
|A Lot Like Love||Jeeter|
|2006||Man About Town||Alan Fineberg||Direct-to-video|
|Bachelor Party Vegas||Z-Bob|
|Deck The Halls||Amit Sayid|
|National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj||Taj Badalandabad|
|2007||The Namesake||Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli|
|2008||Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay||Kumar Patel|
|Under New Management||Wheeler|
|2011||A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas||Kumar Patel|
|2012||Bhopal: Prayer for Rain||TBA|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer||Hunt||Episode "Beer Bad"|
|2000||Sabrina, the Teenage Witch||Prajeeb|
|NYPD Blue||Solomon Al-Ramai|
|2003||All About the Andersons||Dinesh|
|Tru Calling||Steven||Episode "Haunted"|
|2006||The Danny Comden Project||Max|
|2007||Law and Order: Special Victims Unit||Henry Chanoor|
|24||Ahmed Amar||Season 6: 4 Episodes|
|2007–2009, 2012||House, M.D.||Dr.Lawrence Kutner||Main cast Seasons 4–5: 37 Episodes|
|2011–2012||How I Met Your Mother||Kevin||RecurringSeason 7: 9 Episodes|
Penn's feature film debut came in 1998 inExpress: Aisle to Glory. He has since appeared inAmerican Desi,National Lampoon's Van Wilder,Malibu's Most Wanted,A Lot Like Love,Dude, Where's the Party?,Love Don't Cost a Thing,Superman Returns,National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj,Epic Movie,The Namesake, theHarold and Kumarseries, and an uncredited appearance inDeck the Halls. Penn was featured in The Lonely Island 's rejected comedy pilot ,Awesometown.
Penn says that he derived his acting name, Kal Penn, as a lark: "Almost as a joke to prove friends wrong, and half as an attempt to see if what I was told would work (that anglicized names appeal more to a white-dominated industry), I put 'Kal Penn' on my resume and photos." His audition callbacks rose by 50 percent. He has stated that he prefers his birth name and uses "Kal Penn" only for professional purposes.
In January 2007, Penn appeared in the first four episodes of the sixth season of24as Ahmed Amar , a teenage terrorist . Penn says he nearly turned down the role due to personal ethics, stating, "I have a huge political problem with the role. It was essentially accepting a form of racial profiling . I think it’s repulsive. But it was the first time I had a chance to blow stuff up and take a family hostage. As an actor, why shouldn’t I have that opportunity? Because I'm brown and I should be scared about the connection between media images and people's thought processes?"
Also in January 2007, he appeared in the spoof comedyEpic Movieas well as the television showLaw & Order: Special Victims Unit. In May 2007, Penn received the Asian Excellence Award for Outstanding Actor for his performance inThe Namesake.
In fall 2007, Penn joined the cast of the Fox medical dramaHouseas a fellowship applicant.E!reported that Penn had signed on as a regular on the show along with Olivia Wilde and Peter Jacobson and this was confirmed in the plot of the episode " Games ". Penn continued with the series through to the episode " Simple Explanation ", which aired April 6, 2009. He made an additional appearance as Lawrence Kutner on the fifth season finale, " Both Sides Now ", that aired on May 11, 2009. However, due to his new job at the White House, Penn could not be present for the filming of this episode. The clip of him saying "Too bad it isn't true" was taken from a previous filming. Penn returned to the show for the series finale.
Beside his role on the T.V. seriesHouse, he is best known from his role inHarold & Kumar, Kumar Patel, a cannabis smoker who goes with Harold Lee ( John Cho ) to White Castle for a hamburger. Unlike his character, he neither smokes marijuana , claiming it is not for him,[dead link]nor eats meat.
On July 13, 2011, it was announced on Facebook that Penn would be joining the cast ofHow I Met Your Motherfor the seventh season of the show.
In 2008, Penn served as a visiting lecturer in Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania .His course was titled "Images of Asian Americans in the Media."
Penn is currently working on a graduate certificate in international security from Stanford University .
Penn was born to a Hindu Indian family as Kalpen Suresh Modi in Montclair, New Jersey , the son of Asmita, a fragrance evaluator for a perfume company, and Suresh Modi, an engineer.Both of his parents are Gujarati immigrants from India .He has stated that stories of his grandparents marching with Mahatma Gandhi for Indian independence were a significant influence on his interest in politics.
He attended Marlboro Middle School in Marlboro Township, New Jersey and played baritone saxophone in the jazz band there. Penn attended The Fine and Performing Arts Academy (a magnet program ) at Howell High School for freshman, sophomore, and junior years; he transferred to Freehold Township High School for senior year; both schools are part of the Freehold Regional High School District . He was active in the schools' theater productions and competed on the Freehold Township forensics team. He attended UCLA , where he double majored in film and sociology .
Penn was an advocate for Barack Obama 's presidential campaign in 2007 and 2008 and a member of Obama's National Arts Policy Committee.He appears in the Barack Obama -supporting video " Sí Se Puede Cambiar " by Andres Useche and appeared with comedian George Lopez on January 18, 2009, at " We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial ".
In early 2009, Penn was offered the position of Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement in the Obama administration , which he accepted. This necessitated his character Lawrence Kutner being written out of the TV seriesHouse.In his new role with the Obama administration, Modi served as a liaison with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities.He had gone back to using his birth name, Kalpen Modi.
Having made a commitment before his employment at the White House, Penn amicably left his post as Barack Obama's associate director of public engagement on June 1, 2010 to return to his acting career.He returned to office on November 15, 2010, following completion ofA Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.
In February 2012, it was announced that Penn would be a co-chair for the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama
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